PURPOSE. In contrast to wild-type mice, genetically engineered Mucin] (Muc1) null animals display a marked propensity for development of blepharitis and conjunctivitis. Molecular approaches confirmed the presence of Muc1 mRNA and protein in the conjunctival tissue of wild-type mice and identified the bacterial species in Muc1 null symptomatic mice. METHODS. Muc1 null animals housed in a conventional facility were examined for visually apparent inflammation of the eye and surrounding tissue. Blood taken from overtly affected animals was assayed for antibodies to common murine vital agents. Swabs of infected eyes and whole eye preparations were used to detect and speciate bacterial pathogens. Frozen sections of whole eye, lid margin, and Harderian gland were immunostained with antibodies to Muc1 and cytokeratin 14, both epithelial cell markers. Northern blot analysis and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were performed on RNA isolated from conjunctiva and Harderian gland of wild-type mice to compare relative levels of transcript. RESULTS. Student's unpaired t-test performed on the eye inflammation frequency of Muc1 null mice confirmed a statistical significance (P < 0.01) when compared to wild-type background animals housed in the same room. Analysis of blood samples from affected Muc1 null animals detected no common murine vital pathogens. Bacterial analysis of conjunctival swabs and whole eye preparations demonstrated the presence of coagulase-negative Staphylococcus, Streptococcus type α, and Corynebacterium group G2. Muc1 antibody staining of wild-type sections revealed the presence of Muc1 on conjunctival goblet and non-goblet cells and on the epithelium of the Harderian gland. Serial sections stained with cytokeratin 14 antibody confirmed the epithelial nature of cells expressing the Muc1 protein. RNA from conjunctiva and Harderian gland subjected to RT-PCR and northern blot analysis showed an abundance of Muc1 transcript in these tissues. CONCLUSIONS. Muc1 mRNA and protein are present in murine conjunctival and Harderian gland epithelia. Animals lacking Muc1 mRNA and protein are predisposed to developing eye inflammation when compared to wild-type animals with an intact Muc1 gene. Muc1 appears to play a critical protective role at the ocular surface, presumably by acting as a barrier to infection by certain bacterial strains.
|Number of pages
|Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
|Published - 1999
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience